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May 2016+

Argyll and Bute Coat of Arms

Bang in an unpronounceable part of Argyll & Bute, here's down near the bottom of the  Cowal Peninsula and that's a different kind of doon to Dunoon. Way out west, there isn't a soul to be seen and just for once, the same can be said for the rain.

Remote it may be but fans of the bacon sandwich and the antique are catered for in the village.

Beyond that, it appears to be an idyllic, lochside retreat, with wildlife, except that ain't no loch.

Most travel-blatherers would leave the Kyles of Bute at that because 'Kyle' is an everyday thing, right? From the Gaelic Caol, of course, simply meaning narrow and describing the two watery channels that separate Cowal[1] from the Isle of Bute.

[1] No relation.

There's a walk to be done up the hill behind where the views to Bute are, not unsurprisingly, even better. That's for another day, it's being wondered how the heck you get over there? The AA™ road atlas[1] suggests a two-hour drive back up and down to the ferry at Inverclyde even though you can just about touch Bute.

Not wishing to be overly dramatic, simply head the 15 miles up and back down to Colintraive where  CalMac™ will ferry you across from the narrowest, convenient point. The hop across takes five minutes, costs less than your breakfast did[2] and is less than a lap of an athletics track.

Unlike the Olympics, though, this is one 300-metres dash that did catch on.

[1] Still the preferred method of navigation in these wheels.
[2] About £8 for the pair of you and the car at the last check.

It might just be an idyllic, kyleside retreat with fine views from up a hill but there's a bit more while you're in the area...

  Otter Ferry

There are still otters here, probably, but the ferry is long gone. For no other reason than, out of curiosity, the name will have you pull over as you make your way home and north up the narrow road along Loch Fyne.

There's a shoreline walk to be done and the Oyster Catcher pub and the caravans confirm that other people do come here.

  Portavadie - Polphail

Your other ferry option near here only this time west to the Mull of Kintyre and yes,  that one. Interestingly, part of Portavadie is described as a 'ghost village' and no, it's not haunted by Kelpies.

Accommodation was built in the 1970s in nearby Polphail for 500 construction workers who would assemble oil rigs in the new dock. The orders never came and the buildings have sat empty ever since, their last act of usefulness to provide the concrete canvas for graffiti artists although you're not really allowed in.